The Swastika is the sign of wisdom

In his final blog, Anil Bhanot explains the foundations of Hinduism including how the Swastika is th

Hinduism is an ancient religion which has its foundations at the beginning of time as we know it. It’s almost as if God the creator revealed His pure knowledge to his children from the time of their arrival on the planet.

The Hindu creation story actually starts from the inception of the universe. God, the ultimate reality, called Brahman (Brahmm), created the universe and the first sound then heard was AUM.

This is the most auspicious sound in prayer as it represents a link from nature to that indefinable reality Brahman. AUM is used before every Hindu prayer. AUM is a pure sound, it is not a Sanskrit word, it is known as a syllable and could be adopted by any religion and Hindus have adopted it as their most auspicious symbol.

Hinduism, of course, is full of symbolism but the next symbol in order of importance is the Swastika which is a sign of our solar system. The Swastika also known as the sign of wisdom has been found all over the world including North and South America where the Hopi and Mayan civilisations used it as part of their sun worship ceremonies.

It has also been found in the Middle East where side by side a modified symmetrical cross was found to be used also. It is associated to the God of wisdom, Lord Ganesh, and it carries auspicious power but if used for selfish or evil purposes it will ultimately destroy such a person as was the case with Hitler.

Brahman, the one God, is the reality beyond our mind, we cannot comprehend it, we cannot relate to it. Brahman is the creator of the universe, everything there is, and therefore our finite mind, which is a small part of the creation, can never hope to describe or define the creator. For this reason Brahman created the trinity of creation (of nature), preservation (of world) and destruction (of ignorance).

These three manifestations of God, the Brahman, are the realities that Man can relate to. They are the link that we can understand with our mind. These supreme Gods are Lord Vishnu as the preserver of order and righteousness in the world, Lord Brahma as the creator of the solar system and life ( together these two things are called “Srishtie” ), and Lord Shiva who constantly destroys ignorance in the world. Lord Shiva is also know as the Lord of Dance whose dance brings about a cataclysmic change of cycles on Mother Earth which may well go through extreme climatic changes but in Hinduism are the 4 cycles of Satyug, Tretayug, Dwaparayug and Kaliyug. Lord Vishnu incarnates on earth to re-establish righteousness whenever there is an imbalance in favour of the dark forces and in each cycle (Yug) he takes birth with divine powers to help mankind preserve the world.

The first Satyug, a true age of enlightenment, was when through the seven original Seers (Rishis) the creator Brahma imparted the knowledge of the eternal Vedas for mankind. Tretayug when Lord Rama showed mankind how to live an ideal way of life. In Dwaparyug Lord Krishna re-established rightful order and gave mankind the most profound knowledge of spirituality in the Bhagwad Gita. In the Kaliyug Lord Buddha came and moved people away from superstition and asked them to follow the middle path.

Kaliyug is the age of materialism which is still running. After this age the age of enlightenment (Satyug) will return where hopefully Man will see that God loves all equally and religious differences are man made ideologies to keep those religious systems alive and in power. I believe in the UK we have a great opportunity to harmonise those differences and allow the spirit of each religion unite while discarding the man made dogma in some of the religions.

Anil Bhanot read Actuarial Science at university but then qualified as a chartered accountant. He was one of the founding members of Hindu Council UK in 1994 and was first elected as general secretary in 2003.
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Byron burgers and bacon sandwiches: can any politician get away with eating on camera?

Memo to aspirant world leaders: eating in public is a political minefield.

Miliband’s sandwich. Cameron’s hot dog. Osborne’s burger. The other Miliband’s banana. As well as excellent names for up-and-coming indie bands, these are just a few examples of now infamous food faux pas committed by British politicians.

During his entire mayoral campaign, Sadiq Khan refused to eat anything in public. When journalist Simon Hattenstone met him in his local curry house for the Guardian, the now-mayor didn’t eat a single bite despite “dish after dish” arriving at the table. Who can blame him? Though Ed Miliband had been pictured blunderingly eating a bacon sandwich an entire year earlier, the national furore around the incident had not yet died down. “He can make me look Clooneyesque or make me look like Ed eating a bacon sandwich,” Khan said of the photographer at the time.

Miliband’s bacon sandwich is now so infamous that I need offer no explanation for the event other than those words. There is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to the photograph of Ed, lips curled and eyes rolling, as he tucks into that fateful sarnie. Yet politicians frequently bite off more than they can chew – why did Ed’s mishap inspire multiple headlines and an entire front page of The Sun?

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“The momentum got behind the bacon sandwich story because he was awkward, it showed him in a light which was true - he was an awkward candidate in that election,” says Paul Baines, a professor of political marketing at Cranfield University. “He didn’t come across right.”

The photograph of Miliband fit neatly within a pre-existing image of the politician – that he was bumbling, incompetent, and unable to take control. Similarly, when David Cameron was pictured eating a hot dog with a knife and fork months later, the story reinforced popular notions of him as a posh, out-of-touch, champagne-swilling old Etonian. Though Oxford-educated, two-kitchen Miliband is nearly as privileged as Cameron, and Brexit-inducing Dave equally as incompetent as Ed, the pictures would not gain the same popularity in reverse. There are many, many less-than-flattering pictures of Cameron eating, but they didn’t fit into a workable narrative.

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No one, for example, focused on the price of Ed’s sandwich. Purchased at New Covenant Garden Market, it was undoubtedly more expensive than Greggs’ £1.75 bacon roll – but no one cared. When George Osborne was pictured eating an £8 Byron burger whilst cutting £11.5 million from the British budget, however, the picture spoke to many. The then-chancellor was forced to explain that “McDonalds doesn't deliver”, although, as it turned out, Byron didn’t either.

“The idea was to try and display him in a good light – here's a guy eating a burger just like everyone else. The only problem was it was a posh burger and of course he didn't look like everyone else because he was spending ten quid on a burger,” explains Baines.

But Dave, Ed, and George are just the latest in a long, long line of politicians who have been mocked for their eating habits. Across the ocean, Donald Trump has been lambasted for liking his steak well done, while in 1976, Gerald Ford was mocked after biting into the inedible corn husk of a tamale. Why then, do politicians not copy Khan, and avoid being pictured around food altogether?

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“Food connects everybody, food is essentially a connection to culture and the 'every person',” explains Baines. “[Nigel] Farage's appearance in the pub has definitely had a positive impact on how he's perceived by a big chunk of the working class electorate which is an important, sizeable group.” Though Cameron, too, has been pictured with pints, his undeniably weird grasp on the glass make the pictures seem inauthentic, compared to Farage whose pints are clearly at home in his hands. In America, Joe Biden managed to capture the same authenticity with an ice-cream cone.

“I think when it comes across badly is when it comes across as inauthentic,” says Baines. “If I were advising, I certainly wouldn't advise Theresa May to be seen in the pub having a pint, that would not shine with her particular character or style. But could Tim Farron come across better in that way? Possibly but it does have to be authentic.”

Food, then, can instantly make a politician seem in or out of touch. This is especially true when food connects to national identity. Tony Blair, for example, publicly claimed his favourite dish was fish and chips despite earlier saying it was fettuccine with olive oil, sundried tomatoes and capers. In the 1980s, Lord Mandelson allegedly mistook mushy peas for guacamole, insulting us all. In the States, you’d be hard pressed to find a politician who hasn’t been pictured with a hot dog, and there are entire articles dedicated to US politicians who eat pizza with a knife and fork. Again, the food fits a narrative – politicians out of touch with the common person.  

Then again, sometimes, just sometimes, no narrative is needed. We’d advise any candidate who seriously wants a shot in the 2017 General Election to not, under any circumstances, be pictured casually feeding a Solero to an unidentified young woman. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.

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